Derek Sivers

In 1997 Derek started a company called CD Baby that helped independent artists sell their music online. The company was sold in 2008 but he kept working on different things like Anything You Want, an Amazon best seller and Wood Egg, his most recent project. I first read about Derek when 37 Signals published their Getting Real book and to this day I'm still amazed by the conciseness and clarity of his writings and talks. You should check out his Uncommon Sense videos.

How does music fit into your life these days?

I'm fully into programming and writing every minute I can, so I listen to mostly "background" music these days. Indian classical, Javanese Gamelan, an online radio station called Radio Darvish that plays traditional Persian music, anything with Doudouk, or Debussy.

Are there any short short/mid term plans to expand Wood Egg to other regions of the world?

Not yet. 16 countries per year is enough for anyone to handle.

CD Baby was sold for US$22M but you gave most of it to charity. I can understand that after reading Why I gave away my company to charity, but were you always this way? Was this part of your philosophy throughout your life or was it something that came later?

We all have natural set-points that feel right to us. Some people imagine themselves as billionaires. Some imagine themselves with a little 3-bedroom house, and slowly paying off a mortgage. I've always felt OK having some money, but not a ridiculous amount. To me, $22 million was a ridiculous amount, so it felt very natural and true to my nature to give it away.

Some of the most exciting changes I've seen in the indie music business lately are things like Ramen Music and Soundsupply. Do you have any thoughts on this kind of services?

Yes! I love them! No thoughts, just appreciation.

During the CD Baby years, how did the musicians get exposure? You had thousands of artists on board, how did people get to know them? What you did back then, do you think it'd still apply today?

Ah, I have so many stories and bits of advice on that subject that I wrote a free ebook about it. People seem to love it. Go grab it at It definitely applies today. Tiny inconsequential details change, but to call attention to your music, the fundamentals stay the same.